Posted by: Sandy Morrissey | September 1, 2013

2013 Highlights

My pledge to myself to frequently update this blog got “blogged down” in the super busy bluebird banding season. Here are some of the highlights of the season.

Successful nesting & banding season
Overall, our BRSS Eastern Bluebird Project can be proud that we helped fledge almost 300 bluebird babies. We had 95 bluebird nest attempts. This is slightly less than last year’s 104, but I do believe the warm winter preceding 2012 was the reason for so many more nests last year.

IMG_2130 (Medium)

This was our second successful nest of 6 nestlings. These fledged at Ardsley Country Club. The 6 nestlings at Lyndhurst also fledged successfully. A brood of 6 is rare in our New York area.

We banded or recaptured almost 400 nestlings and adults. I have a ton of banding data to analyze and will report on my findings in another post. We did recapture 11 bluebirds which we banded in 2011(our first year). So we know bluebirds live at least 3 years. Of these, one was an adult in 2011, making it at least a 4 year bird.

BB F in 2011 - 1411-34142 -crp

This is our oldest banded bluebird, banded as an adult in 2011. She is at least in her 4th year and interestingly, has spent most of it on a golf course. This is good news those of us who want to use golf courses for our bluebird trails but worry about the chemicals.

Another successful adoption
We actually had a second successful adoption this year. Cece Fabbro, a newly trained bander, discovered a dead female sitting on a nest of 4 eggs, but a 5th had hatched and the nestling was begging for food. After waiting to see if a male was around (he wasn’t), she moved the nestling to another box which had hatched only one nestling. The adoptive parents accepted this new responsibility without a peep, and we are happy to report that both nestlings fledged successfully.

[Please do not try this at home! We are licensed to handle the birds. It is illegal if you don’t have a license, and it is generally best not to interfere with nature. In our case, the bluebirds are in a human created situation, and we have lots of experience with the nesting behavior of bluebirds.]

Hanging nestbox works
We’ve had an experimental hanging nestbox in Mt. Hope Cemetery for several years. Tree Swallows and House Sparrows had used (or tried to use) it, but until this summer, no bluebirds.

Monitor Linda Keil discovered 4 eggs and an incubating female in early June. For whatever reason, only one egg hatched, but that nestling did succeed in fledging. We will try more hanging boxes next spring. Some locations do not want to deal with having to mow around our poles and this will solve the problem. We also might find more locations on golf courses, where we must be sure to have nestboxes and poles in out-of-play areas.
Hanging bb box (Small)

“Wings” attract a bluebird
White Plains High School student, Arielle Hazi, attached blue plastic wings on 26 nestboxes as an experiment to see if they would help attract bluebirds to locations where we had boxes, but no bluebirds. The study was too small and not long enough to prove anything definitive, but we did have one bluebird male trying to nest at Carlson’s Florist. In the past we had only attracted Tree Swallows, but this year a male bluebird claimed the box and sang his heart out trying to entice a female. He was there for about two weeks, but then gave up or was driven away by Tree Swallows who claimed the box and nested there, as usual. It’s a hard-knock life for some bluebirds!

BB on wings box_close

Involved hundreds of children and adults

I continue to say that even if we never recapture any of the birds we band, the “hands-on” nature experience we give to countless children and adults is priceless!

20 Girl Scouts helped band nestlings Camp Addisone Boyce.

20 Girl Scouts helped band nestlings Camp Addisone Boyce.

Ladies from the Somers Women's Club help band at Reis Park. This organization built the nestboxes several years ago and continue to monitor the very successful boxes at the park.

Ladies from the Somers Women’s Club help band at Reis Park. This organization built the nestboxes several years ago and continue to monitor the very successful boxes at the park.

You're never too young to experience the wonder of nature!

You’re never too young to experience the wonder of nature!



  1. I am new to Blue Bird nesting. I had two families, so much fun and they stayed around until we left for 6 weeks from the middle of July until end of August. Came home a week ago and not a sign of my friends, I replaced the meal worm feeder with a supply and also filled a feeder with hulled sun flower seeds. No Blues as yet, hope soon. What do others experience ?

    • Bluebirds have never nested in my yard, but so i don’t have first hand experience with how long they hang around. Lucky you to have them in your yard. They eat insects, such as your mealy worms, but won’t eat your sunflower seeds. I think bluebirds find other bluebirds and go around in a flock in the fall. If you live in a cold climate, they might head south of where you live for the winter. Hopefully, they’ll be back next spring.

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